Put Your Gas Car Out to Pasture

horse_blog

In researching PSE&G’s 100th anniversary, I came across a purchasing memo:

Purchase request: Truck.

Reason: Horse died.

They got the truck.

Rarely can you find a document that captures a moment of dramatic change at, or near, its start. The horse, a tried and true component of transportation for decades, would begin to increasingly be replaced by engine driven cars and trucks – at PSE&G and in society. In fact, today it is jarring for us to even think of an electric and gas company that used horses to take people and equipment to string the electric wires and dig the ditches for gas lines still being using today.

The following memo does not yet exist:

Purchase request: Electric car.

Reason: Combustion engine obsolete.

Maybe it should. The benefits of electric cars are simply too great, especially in the areas of cleaning the air, combating climate change and boosting our economy.

Cleaning the air

Americans are great at hating some risks and learning to live with others. One risk we have collectively learned to live with is the health impact of automobile emissions. In New Jersey, car and truck emissions are the largest source of air pollution – greater than the power sector or general industry.

EECI_InfoGraphic_dark_green copyThe impact is severe. Emissions from combustion engines can cause coughing, lung irritation, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. They can cause or contribute to premature death in the young, the elderly and individuals with respiratory issues, such as asthma, as well as cause pulmonary problems in developing fetuses.

A 2013 MIT study concluded that in the United Kingdom more people suffer premature deaths from breathing in auto emissions than from auto accidents. And, the American Lung Association and Environmental Defense Fund released a study that asserts a transition to electric cars in California would prevent 600 heart attacks and 38,000 asthma attacks annually in that state alone.

The single most impactful action most people can take to improve the air quality and health of their own neighborhood is to drive electric.

Combating climate change

Concentration of CO2 in the environment is increasing. A broad scientific consensus has emerged that this concentration is causing climate change. Car combustion engines are a major contributor of CO2 and there is no current technology to reduce or capture carbon from combustion cars. An average car contributes 11,450lbs of carbon a year.

Even though sales of electric cars have been relatively small, all of the electric cars sold in America have driven more than 1 billion electric miles with no carbon emissions, avoiding between 400 million and 800 million pounds of CO2.

This is a big number, but not that significant when you consider the entire atmosphere of the planet – but you can see that as electric car acceptance grows, CO2 avoidance will add up.

Good for the economy

And, all of those electric cars have avoided the purchase of tens of millions of gallons of gas and diverted money that would have been sent to foreign oil producers back into the local American economy. And, 100 percent of electricity used in the U.S. comes from North America.

One state official in Georgia is justifying why that state is aggressively promoting electric cars, pointing out that Georgians spend $16 billion every year on gas. With every electric car purchase, that number shrinks and there is more money spent locally on other things – fueling the economy instead of their cars.

And, with incentives from the federal government, savings in gas and lower maintenance, electric cars are increasingly competitive in price with traditional cars.

Sept. 12-20 is National Drive Electric Week, with electric car shows around the country. PSEG is hosting one at our Newark general office on Sept. 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come down and check out the electric cars driven by our employees (there will also be a Tesla courtesy of our neighbors, Panasonic).

EVShow1

With the tremendous societal benefits from driving an electric car, there is no better time to think about putting your old combustion engines out to pasture.

Paul Rosengren is Director of Communications for PSEG. He also spearheaded and manages the PSEG Employee Electric Car Incentive Program.

ALL_BLOG_PaulPaul Rosengren,
Director, Corporate Communications
PSEG

9 thoughts on “Put Your Gas Car Out to Pasture

  1. This is an excellent discussion on the benefits of getting internal combustion engines off our busy roads. How, though, do we ensure we’re not just pushing the creation of emissions farther up the chain to whatever source is generating the energy the electric car is using to recharge? It would be wonderful if, as the percentage of electric cars on the road increases, we see similar growth in the percentage of power generated for the grid through renewable sources.

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  2. What I’d like to know is when is this technology going to be available to mid and lower income families? Electric cars seem to be a luxury, a status symbol and not a new way to protect our environment.

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    • With more than a dozen electric models, electric cars are more affordable than you might think. The car I drive — a Volt – when you factor in federal tax break ($7500), lower fuel costs, lower maintenance costs and current dealer incentives, it is the very close in price to a Prius (maybe cheaper). Also, electric used cars are beginning to hit the market – and you can find some really good buys. And more lower cost options are on the way!

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    • With more than a dozen electric models, electric cars are more affordable than you might think. The car I drive — a Volt – when you factor in federal tax break ($7500), lower fuel costs, lower maintenance costs and current dealer incentives, it is the very close in price to a Prius (maybe cheaper). Also, electric used cars are beginning to hit the market – and you can find some really good buys. And more lower cost options are on the way!

      Like

  3. Great post, Paul. I love the link with the past and the present focus on renewables. That picture is priceless. Very cogent points in your post. Hope you can republish in the company newsletter for wider readership.

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  4. Let’s not forget that an all electric car also requires a lot less maintenance. No oil changes, very few parts to break down and a newly proven model of remote software updates. Tesla while seemingly out of reach for most is using the wealthy to be the tester for the future reasonably priced car. Once the Giga factory is online look out Gasoline the Electron is moving fast.

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  5. While there are parallels between the fall of the horse-drawn-cart and the impending fall of the gasoline engine, I believe that the transition will not be as rapid. The truck had advantages in terms of carrying capacity and towing power that the horse could not match. The best modern electric cars can only match the gasoline engine in terms of range or power output, and they do this at a higher price point. In order to win over the majority of American consumers, electric vehicles will either have to lower their price or further increase their performance. However, societal (media/prestige) or governmental pressures (greater tax breaks) may accelerate this process.

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  6. Excellent post! Weaving in health, climate change, and the economy makes a powerful case. I think some of the health issues such as the cardiovascular affects as well as the benefits to local economies are often over-looked in these discussions. So, good to see these issues discussed here.

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